February 8, 2007 In 1896, when Karl Benz patented the first internal combustion engine, it had horizontally opposed pistons, and the flat boxermotor (the German term for flat engine) has been powering some of the world’s best known automobiles (Porsche, Volkswagen’s Beetle and Kombi f’rinstance), motorcycles (Honda’s Goldwing and BMW’s mainstay Boxer range) and aircraft (Lycoming and Continental) ever since. Japanese automotive company Subaru has used the boxer design almost exclusively and is now pioneering a new phase for horizontally opposed piston engines with the release of the world’s first horizontally-opposed turbo diesel engine. The Japanese all-wheel drive specialist will be displaying an entire drivetrain at the 77th Geneva International Motor Show next month.
Subaru believes passionately in its boxer engines which are more compact than in-line units and provide a much lower centre-of-gravity.
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This reduces body roll for safer cornering and also enhances handling precision such as during a sudden lane-change manoeuvre on a motorway.
Due for its first vehicle application early next year, the Subaru ‘boxer’ turbo diesel is a highly rigid unit with low levels of noise and vibration.
Not only does this eliminate the need for a balancer shaft which counters uneven combustion pressures and general roughness, but Subaru’s first diesel is as compact as its petrol sisters and combines unusually strong pulling power at low engine speeds with high-rev throttle-response.